How to Build an Active and Engaged Online Community
Do you know the worst mistake a vet can make on social media?
Using it as a foghorn to market their practice and talk only about themselves. Regardless of how much a customer supports your business, they want to be part of a community that will address their needs too.
Build momentum online
Your customers undoubtedly have a lot of questions. Yet without a community, their only outlet for these is face-to-face appointment time, phone or email. Give them somewhere else to turn and your relationship can go much deeper, plus others can join in the conversation.
One of the fastest ways to start a community is by using social media. You don’t have to be an internet expert to know there are many channels to choose from. What you need to know is where your customer feels most at home so you can connect with them there.
Get to know your community
- Build a list of your most passionate advocates. Is it Mrs Jones who tells all her friends about your bedside manner or Mr Bloggs who never fails to compliment your staff? Find out what social channels these customers use and build a community around them. If they support you offline they’re likely to champion your online community too.
- You’ll need to research different social channels to understand their approach. If you can’t say something in 140 characters or less, Twitter isn’t for you. If Facebook users are too fickle for your crowd, go somewhere else. You’ll soon work out where to settle just by reading user comments or looking at competitor sites. Who do they attract?
Take your time
- Everything happens very quickly on social media but you can’t expect a new community to scale so fast. Did you meet all of your closest friends in one go? Did you build relationships with extended family or colleagues overnight? It takes a while to build trust and form a genuine connection that lasts. It’s no different online.
- There’s no point buying fans or followers for social channels. Fake user accounts won’t help grow your community. Instead, expand organically. To do this, let people know where to find you and make it easy for them to share. For example, include a link to your profile in emails or put up a poster in the waiting room that invites people to join.
Top tip: Don’t be afraid to try out new things! Experiment to see what works best.
What your community has to say is important for two reasons:
- With each interaction they let you know what they like the most. Which posts get the most likes, comments or shares? Do more of this.
- When your fans and followers talk amongst themselves, they reveal the community spirit. It highlights what they take from the group so you can nurture this to grow.
The more your community knows you’re listening, the more engaged they will be. Over time, it becomes a valuable two-way channel of communication and support.